Friday, September 25, 2015

Six of Crows Writing contest

To celebrate the publication of the new Leigh Bardugo series, let's have a writing contest!

Prize is this ARC in the amazing winged-box! Trust me, this is very cool, You want this!

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:


3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the
prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
Thus: spy/spyglass is ok, but spy/soupy is not

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

5. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

6. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

7. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

8. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

8. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")

Contest opens: Saturday 9/26/15 at 10am

Contest closes: Sunday 9/27/15 at 10am

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!


Rats! Too late!


Shea said...

“Smells like crispy fried chicken in here”. They tip-toed around the still-smoking ash pile in the throne room. “Was she hit with a weapon or something?”

“She was crowned in fire. Insisted on it. They begged her to explain, she said it was a secret.”

They studied the pictures on the walls, looking for clues. “How long was her bloodline again?”

“Sixty monarchs. See the family resemblance along the generations?”

He stepped back, taking in every portrait at once.

“They all look exactly alike. How could they-“

The floor cracked, lunging upwards.

And then came the beating of mighty wings.

Jeff Deitering said...

“WEAPON is armed...”
“SPYglass tracking systems active...”
“Target acquired...”
“Power nominal...”
“Fuel pressure nominal...”
“CROW’s nest says GO...”
“SECRETary is a GO...”
“Hey, anyone seen Felix?”
“Chief is a GO...”
“He was at the weapon with you.”
“Launch clamps released...”
“I thought he came back with you.”
“Auto-launch initiated...”

Unknown said...

As dusk falls, so do the crows with the first hint of winter on their wings. I swear they get braver this time every year. Six of 'em swoop in to spy on me from the strawman's arms like they know I'm keeping secrets.

One tilts his head in my direction and mocks me with an eye full of muzzle flash and buckshot on his breath. He don't know it, but he's telling his own future.

The shotgun's butt rests tight against my shoulder. It's a good weapon. Aims true.

As dusk falls, so do the crows.

Laura Rueckert said...

For a spy, secrets can mean the difference between life and death. Of an informant. Of a partner. And betrayal is a weapon to be wielded like a scalpel, not a crowbar.

Six lights blink on my screen--six men track me through this rundown Latvian town. One used to be my Matthew, before he wielded the crowbar and became her Matthew.

They think he's one of them.

He thinks I'm still his.

I think...I'm all out of forgiveness.

From a burner phone, I text: Matthew Bennett = MI6.

One light winks out of existence. Like I said. A scalpel.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

I quietly settle myself not far from the campfire. Wispy smoke snakes, prayer-like, into autumn’s twilight sky. The woman and child, voices bubbling, stroll away with their string of six sunnies to the brightly lit fish cleaning house.

My last meal, over at Crow Wing Resort, had tasted a bit off. A young couple secreting pheromones, mating pheromones. But beggars can’t be choosers.

I waited.

Darkness fell. The flames burned. Down, down, down.

The bubbling voices approach. Slowly, silently, I straighten and stretch. Unsheathe my claws, my weapons.

Tender meat with marbling. I lick my whiskers. Prayer answered.

Cheryl said...

What? No.
Crow, always watching.
Spying on me in my white room with its peeling wallpaper, rosebuds secret under decades and cigarettes, canvas for thirty-six lipstick hashmarks.
I wish that crow would shut up already. I wish it would fly down the chimney to me. I bet it would be delicious.
Three days since they were last here. Three days without food. I drink from the filthy bathroom tap. I can’t make myself stop.
That sound’s not a crow, it’s a car.
The door opens. He comes in, weapon drawn. Killer or saviour, I don’t even care anymore.

Jessi said...

The sixteenth day of a summer month, Lil wore red on her trip through the forest. The color served the same threat as the bright backs of poisonous animals: I'm dangerous, a weapon, mess with me and die.

The wolf mistook her red as a poppy's invitation.

Not a mistake he would make again, were he alive to make further mistakes.

Settling beside the too-still wolf, Lil constructed a crown of daisies. She stood with the wispy ring nestled atop her curls, leaving the blood splattered up her arms as further warning, and followed the secret path to Grandma's house.

Dena Pawling said...

Escrow closed. Tabitha massaged her expanding belly as she applied shelf paper, arranged dishes, set up the nursery.

Deployments were so long...

She paused. Smiled at Jonathan's picture.

“I spy a cute guy.” Jonathan. Her middle school crush. A secret then.

“No weapon will keep us apart.” His wedding vow.



“Daddy's home!” Jonathan scooped Lindsey in his arms, covered her baby face with kisses.

Tabitha sighed. Her life full.



New orders. Six long months....

Lindsey toddling. New expanding belly.

A knock at the door.

Full dress uniform.

“I'm so sorry, Ma'am.”


Anonymous said...

"Um... I'm TerrorMonger? I'm here to arrange to... um... conquer the world?" I said. "I thought HeroMaster... would... want to thwart me? I mean... I'll thwart him..."

"Plan?" Lisa the secretary asked, barely glancing from her computer. I handed her a manila folder.

"I have a microwave inducer weapon? I'll turn the city into crispy critters if HeroMaster doesn't... surrender?" Blast! Why did I sound so lame?

She opened the folder, bored. "Mm. Thursday the sixteenth. Noon."

"Thank you."

As I headed out she said, "Hey, 'Monger. This plan looks pretty good. Might even work. Good luck."

I left, smiling.

Anonymous said...

Outside, six men talked politics and smoked cigars. "The southern woman is the most devastating secret weapon the spying Confederates have," declared Pinkerton.

Inside, Boyd Faulkner bowed low. "Miss McKenzie. I heard a raincrow, earlier. I believe that means rain."

The password. "Not enough to storm us out, surely."

"Would you save me the quadrille?"

I smiled and fished my dance card and pencil from the velvet pouch at my wrist, then handed it to him. "Of course."

He returned the card with the troops movements Wild Rose had gathered. Mission accomplished.

Secret? There was nothing secret about southern charm.

Janice Grinyer said...

Six Crow ride
with Son of the Morning Star
He uses them
to seek their enemies
counting coup to his cause

Two Lakota spy
horses, weapons, soldiers
and six Crow scouts
clustered in the sun's rising heat
like flies drawn to blood

One Lt. Colonel
Son of the Morning Star
believes in lies
pushing 267 men forward
all lay dead by nightfall

Secrets lie still
under Blue Sky
in tall grass
on rolling hills
at Little Bighorn

Six Crow rode
with 268 men to battle
only six Crow return
They say He was using them

or were they using him?

Unknown said...

Joe looked at the scoreboard, 2nd and goal from the six yard line. Down four a field goal was no good. They needed the touchdown.

Time was running out.

Winning this championship would be something to crow about forever.

He knew he should hand it to Dexter, but they has spy on him all night.

It was time for the secret weapon.

Joe called the play.

Nobody expected it.

The ball was snapped. Boys crashed together.

The defense talked Dexter. It was then they realized that Dexter did not have the ball.

Unknown said...

The sixth crow took flight, whisking higher and higher into the sulfur-filled sky. With it was a secret. One that it would carry across invisible borders and walls alike, as if it were a spy masked by the blackness of the floating ash. Yet, even those trained in the arts of espionage can fall.

It was in this same moment in which the ebony bird lofted into the air, that it met its demise. A single arrow exploded from the shadows. Striking straight through its heart, the weapon sank the courier back to Earth, our hope plummeting with it.

Dee said...

I don’t know what woke me, but my eyes snapped open. The dial on the clock glowed six. Restless and unable to go back to sleep, I stumbled to the window and peered around the corner.

Dark shadows were etched against the pale, morning sky. A figure, shaped like a crow, sat on the power line and watched. A spy by trade, superstitious by nature; my eyes searched for the abnormal.

A secretive image moved forward from the shadows. After a faint scratching noise, my front door opened.

I raised my weapon and waited.

It was time for payback.

SimonFrancisDowling said...

A crow perched one legged and menacing atop a crooked branch. Ink black feathers kept it hidden from the world below, where sirens flashed and chains rattled.

All through the night a search party swept the area for evidence. They huddled close together for warmth and kept quiet as a secret, taking on the demeanour of spies with their collars turned up.

The murder weapon was never found, and as such, no justice was served.

The crow squawked six times, one for each victim, before flapping it’s wings and disappearing into the night.

Redmond Writer said...

At forty-six, Brad is no longer interested in keeping the secret that has acted like a weapon against everything he stands for.

He abandons his secret at crowded venues, a la, Times Square on New Year's Eve, or Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, but the rest of the year? Not so much.

Today, he shows up for work at the Trump Tower not at all concerned about what others may conclude about their trusted Penthouse Suite security guard.

Perhaps Brad has gone rogue? Perchance, he's an undercover spy for The Donald?

No matter, Brad is ROCKING that dress.

Steve Forti said...

One step at a time, that’s how you get through life.
Two-step with a pretty girl.
Skynyrd’s Gimme Three Steps appropriately plays for the drunken crowd.
Four steps are what he gave me.
Five steps are what I needed.
Six steps to his assault combo.
Seven steps I tumbled down.
Eight steps until I find a weapon.
Nine steps later he’s secreting blood.
Ten steps in the booking process.
Eleven steps from my cell, I spy the warden.
Twelve steps, had I finished, would have kept me from that bar.
Thirteen steps up the gallows.
One step at a time.

Mae said...

She was six when she first saw the crow. It sat watching her father work. He died in an accident the next day.

At twelve she watched the crow spy as her grandmother hoed the garden. Nana fell ill that night. She was buried three days later.

Death always followed the crow’s visits. Except when it visited the house of the secretive woman living at the edge of the village. She was never sick, never had accidents, and never seemed to age.

At thirty she saw the crow watch her son toddle across the yard. She picked up her weapon.

Craig F said...

The generals wanted the weapon to remain secret until its use. They dropped her six miles away, as the crow flies. The generals forgot about the Spine. A blind spy could see someone on that climb.

Hiding while climbing made her late and the battlefield was now a cemetery. The so-called Reavers had buried her friends and family, their enemies, with respect. The weapon and her thoughts weighed twice as much during her return.

The pompous generals who claimed to be ordained by god wanted to debrief immediately. She looked each in the eye and then used the weapon.

Colin Smith said...

"Land ahoy!" I call from the crow's nest.

Six long months I've been ship's lad under this Jolly Roger, taken aboard by the captain when my folks was drowned. Took me into his trust he did.

Big mistake.

For t'was his cannon that sunk my folk's ship.

So I'm playin' nice 'til I spy a chance. Maybe after we come to shore and find the treasure, when we've a moment alone. Then I'll show him two secrets hidden under my shirt.

And, while he's distracted with those, I'll use a dagger, my dad's own weapon, to cut his heart out.

BJ Muntain said...

Gregor's hands dug through soft earth. Hidden in the wheat, no one would know he was in this field. He uncovered the weapon that would make his country a nuclear power: the warm lead box of plutonium.


Manny looked up to see crows circling the west section. "You didn't tell anyone the secret, did you?"

Maurie shrugged. "Just some guy pretending to be a spy. Was getting on everyone's nerves."

"That makes six. Cops are gonna ask questions."

"He's a spy. Cops won't care."

"Gotta stop feeding the crows, though. Some of them are looking some pretty colours."

Leah B said...

Sunlight and sweat stung her eyes. “Sixty possessed on the ridge. If they reach the water farm …” She lowered the spyglass. “Angel, we need help.”

“No.” His wings unfurled, stretched. “They have you.”

She drew her sword. "How—"

He chuckled, flicking her weapon aside. “Nobody in this shithole dies. Ever. You thought we wouldn't notice?”

Her secret— “Angel.”


A murder of crows exploded from the trees; the hungry choir's shrieks slapping across the rocky fields. Anticipating her departure. Their feast.

“Or do you prefer Horsewoman?”

The agent sighed, then scribbled 'NOPE'. “What a predictable twist.”

Steven D. said...

My epitaph should read, “A Bullet to My Hearts,” should this fragment retrieval surgery tip in Death’s favor.

My partner, on the thin blue line and secretly beyond, put two in my chest during a routine domestic gone awry, as a scuffle caused her weapon to discharge.

The continual happiness of my aortic microworld hinges on a damaged six-millimeter ventricle wall.

I blindly resisted previous urges to spy, but blood-bathed eyes blaze with hindsight.

Encrypted texts.

Random errands.

Ignoring that 10-16 call to our apartment building, may have prevented this pre-anesthetic, hazy glimpse of the complainant’s hands intertwined with hers.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Creep I did.
“Insipid,” you crowed.
Marks I made.
“Extinguish!” you wailed, your face pinched in anguish.
Xat you bought for your secret flea market menagerie.
Loved it.
Cavernous it was.
Tardy your eureka.
Unsuspecting fool.
Laid six eggs
Armada I made
Return I did.
Incredulous you were.
Uncap your weapon. Spare none.
Sold xat crispy thing and gassed me.

Patricia Cox said... be sixteen and in love. Jimmy and Sarah were alone at last. It had been a fun evening; pizza and movies, but he was hoping for more.
They had an hour before her parents returned, it was plenty of time. Sarah excused herself to go freshen up. “Don’t be long.” Jimmy crowed at her as she disappeared up the stairs. He felt like a spy, secretly removing one of the six secret weapons in his wallet; he was prepared.
As she came down the stairs his excitement grew, and then it happened, “Hi mom, you guys are home early.”

Finn Marlowe said...

“Bogey on our six!” the pilot cried.
I knew.
Twitching, his hands flying from the throttle, he turned his head. “It’s a Death Crow! Right there, closing in! We’ll never escape it!”
“Doesn’t matter.”
“What? Don’t you get it? We’re dead now. Dead! They’re gonna take us down!”
It didn’t really matter. We were dead anyway. A spy in enemy territory didn’t last, although the flashing fuel light and squawking alarm made that a moot point. We were going down. And as planned, the impact would smash open the secret weapon hidden on board.

Mallory Love said...

Secrets are their weapons, although they disguise it well. You would never imagine the six of them as a threat, sitting in the front pew dressed in their Sunday best. There’s Mary Jo -the pastor’s wife and leader of the group, Sarah- Mark’s (the choir director) fiancee, Beth, Jane, Erica, and newcomer Jill.
Hiding behind half-hearted compliments with sugary inflections, they crow praises in your ear before striking, weaving in that little tidbit to make you blush and cower. The smiles become wicked once you realize. Wonder if they’ll still be smiling when they spy Pastor Todd kissing Mark.

JD Paradise said...

Blood strings down from the dead girl's wrecked mouth, pools on the hardwood. Lampinelli glares out from behind her crowblack veil.

Me, I toss the bedroom. Nothing's secreted behind the Sixteen Candles poster. Nothing on the bed beneath a wispy white negligee that would've been a hell of a weapon if she'd lived to grow into it. But flung in a corner is what's left of the notebook, limp as a spinebroke dove.

Lampinelli swears. "She did have the spell."

Now Carson does. "I'll find him," I promise. With no idea how.

Lampinelli kicks out. The body jumps. "You'd better."

Christina Seine said...

Ms. Addams,

I regret to inform you that I must resign my position as nanny for Wednesday and Pugsley.

In my sixty-two years, I’ve never encountered more ill-mannered children. I was willing to overlook the crispy immolated frog in my bag, Pugsley’s bioweapons experiment, and even the stains on my umbrella left by the odd secretions seeping from the nursery wall - your aged mother swears it’s not blood. I cannot, however, condone a prank that utilizes a genuine disembodied hand and crowbar. The shock nearly killed me.

You shall be hearing from my attorney, Mr. Bert.

Ms. Poppins

Megan V said...

Interview Transcript
Duration: 9 Minutes
Detective Tori Smith
Jenna Kilburn

Detective: It’s September 13, 2013, Friday, at 14:00 hours. I am Detective Tori Smith and with me is Jenna Kilburn. We’re in the Sixth Precinct interview room. This interview is being recorded. Now Jenna, you saw Elspeth two days ago, is that right?
JK: [Shakes head]. He saw her. He caught her watching our secret, using her camera (inaudible) a weapon. So he took her to the crows. He took her and she screamed. [Pause] She shouldn’t have been spying.
Detective: Who took her, Jenna?
JK: Daddy.

[Interview Ended]

Karen McCoy said...

Her non-poker face stretched heavy. Down to her bra and panties, this hand would decide which came off first.

Frat boys crowded around her, and she stared at her lonely five of clubs. This was why sixteen-year-olds could legally drive, but not gamble. “Draw three.”

The dealer offered them, spying the crease between her breasts like he imagined putting an extra card there too. “You still in?”


Their skinny concealed weapons aimed at her secret goods. “Call. What you got?”

She splayed her cards on the table and flushed her way out with dignity.

Donnaeve said...

We was in the field before six a.m.

A company of crows skirted raspy stalks of corn, a whisper of winter in the air.

Roy bragged.

“Shithead. You wait, first shot.”

He won't nothing. A lowbrow bully like Pa, hitting their way through life.

My hands grew numb. This worried me.

I spotted the buck initially, but Roy, determined, delivered a gut punch, then took aim.

He missed.

Trembling, I raised my weapon, praying I wouldn't.

He dropped, secreting blood.

The numbness spread. I felt nothing.

Headlines declared, “Hunting accident kills brother.”

Year later?

I took Pa ice fishing.

LB Hunter said...

Eleanor woke and went straight to the mirror. In the cold light of the tiled bathroom her complexion looked gray. Crow’s feet bracketed her eyes.

She had no weapons to hand so threw her expensive-but-useless eye gel at the reflection. The plastic tube bounced off and hit her in the face. It took the even more expensive jar of anti-aging cream to shatter the mirror.

Nick rolled over in bed. “Nightmare?” His voice was raspy from last night’s whiskey. It was no secret that Eleanor wasn’t a morning person.

“You have no idea.”

She was born sixty years ago. Today.

CED said...

Branwen began feeding the crows when she turned six. Soon after, they brought her secret gifts.

At first, meaningless trinkets: a dollar stamped with the face of Sacajawea; pondweed stalks; an iridescent button.

Then, what they knew she needed: jewelry to pawn when her stomach twisted in hunger; a pendant she thought lost forever, discarded by her father in a drunken rage; a delicate pen knife to keep by her bedside.

Finally, they gave her what she wanted: Branwen, her wispy hair transformed into wispy feathers, flew away and carried gifts to little girls who had not yet lost hope.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...


His threats, raspy in his throat, scrape the back of her neck, shove her stumbling into the alley. Sixteen windows crowd the walls around her. A white curtain, yellowed and creased like an old eyelid, twitches at an open window. Hope leaps in her heart. Someone will see. Someone will hear. Someone will help.

She screams, thrashes. Glass bottles roll, smash.

The window closes - quiet, final.

She weeps as his weapons tear her apart, spilling his seed, spilling her blood the way children spill secrets – indiscriminately, easily.

The curtain shivers in shame, a flag of surrender.

Unknown said...

It was six a.m. and the Crow was in tall grass. Serena walked up the hill and handed him a latte.
“You look like a spy, not an Indian scout.”
“The re-enactment won’t start for hours”
“They had i-Phones at Little Big Horn?”
“Found this cool app. Have a look.”
In the phone two men appeared atop the hill, wearing cavalry trousers and tall boots.
“Hey!” she said. “One’s got a buckskin jacket, with long, blond hair. Isn’t that—“
“—Who else? Temporarily, it’s our little secret.”
“And he’s locking lips?”
“With the bugle boy. See? No Weapon.”

Jennifer Delozier said...


“The blackbirds are spying on me!” Jay said, brandishing his secret weapon—a homemade air cannon. “And they stole six of my prize pies. But no more. Duck!” He fired a poof of glitter into the air.
You’re bedazzlin’ the crows?!” His wife clucked. “The chick next door will think you’re a ravin’ loon!”
“Don’t care. The birds are robbin’ me blind.”
“You gullible, old buzzard! The delivery boy did it. He flew the coop ’cause he was too chicken to tell ya. Now come inside, ya dodo.”
She winked as she shut the door. No harm, no fowl.

Unknown said...

It was six a.m. and the Crow was in tall grass. Serena walked up the hill and handed him a latte.
“You look like a spy, not an Indian scout.”
“The re-enactment won’t start for hours”
“They had i-Phones at Little Big Horn?”
“Found this cool app. Have a look.”
In the phone two men appeared atop the hill, wearing cavalry trousers and tall boots.
“Hey!” she said. “One’s got a buckskin jacket, with long, blond hair. Isn’t that—“
“—Who else? Temporarily, it’s our little secret.”
“And he’s locking lips?”
“With the bugle boy. See? No Weapon.”

Marie McKay said...

Solve the following problems in your notebook:

i. In an overcrowded classroom, there are 35 six-year-olds,16 of whom haven't eaten breakfast. Calculate how many children have eaten breakfast.

ii. Of the children who haven't eaten breakfast, 4 wet the bed. Show what percentage of the class wets the bed, and has not eaten breakfast.

iii. 1/4 of the bedwetters keeps a secret for a raspy voiced bogeyman. Express this fraction as a decimal.

iv. If a secret is a weapon used against its keeper, what mathematical symbol shows the extent to which 1 adult can be destructive?

Laura Mary said...

There’s a voice in my head commanding me to keep a secret, one no one else will understand; just sixteen pounds and then I swear I’ll let you stop.

You’ll wear your happiness like a crown, just another five pounds, it’ll be worth it, I promise.

They’re spying on you. You need to be more careful. Food is a weapon and lies are our defence. Six more pounds, but don’t let it show.

The less there is of me, the less there is to be miserable. That’s one step closer to happiness, isn’t it?

Just four more, I promise…

Claire said...

"Six," the Prefect intones, and turns away.

Carrington, the meanest of the lot, steps forward with an ugly smile. He gestures to Michael. “Over the desk.”

It was Hadley, spying from the dormitory, who had turned him in. As if he didn't have enough reasons to crow over him. His wealth, his privilege, brandished like weapons at the scholarship boy.

The cane comes down. Swish.

He thinks of his letters home. Having a great time here.


Lessons hard, but I’m doing all right.


The other boys are decent, and we have lots of fun.


Secrets, and lies.

ngcornett said...

Six years I’ve been hiding myself in crowds, a spy who learned one secret too many. Now my old agency is after me, and my only weapon is the threat that I’ll go public with proof of what I saw.

My weakness is I don’t have proof anymore. In that squeaker time before last when they just missed me but burned the building, they also burned the proof.

I don’t think they know that, but lately I’ve had a crawly feeling up my vertebrae whenever I’m outside, and the hair rises on my arms for no logical reason.

Like now.

Katie New said...

She warbled, in the night, so black, so hidden, she disappeared in the darkness.

Squeezed by southern pride and strangling vines, Crowfield Plantation was the master of history, ruled by cowardice. Within her walls were weapons of mass destruction, and bones and faces with flesh.

She cawed.

In her domain were secrets so profound, and yet so condemning, that no Waspy person would enter - yet it was he or she who held the key.

She cawed.

Six iron gates surrounded her, overgrown weeds gripping at her neck.

She cawed.

Her vibration, felt not for miles, but for generations.

She cawed.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Six days out.

Candles illuminated Nestor’s stolen treasures. Darkness of No Man’s Land pressed the flickering light.

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carre

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The boy ran his fingers over the author’s names. “Was it books or writers considered to be weapons?” the boy asked.

“Both. The Librarians destroyed the books, silenced the writers,” Old Cy said. “We teachers keep surviving books secret. If the Librarians find us…”

“No more settlements ahead,” Nestor said. “How much further to the Repository?”

“Not too far now. As the crow flies.”

Kitty said...

Thomas Pynchon answered the door holding a six-shooter.
"You the secretary?"
"Yeah," she said. "What's the weapon for?"
"Yours or mine?"
"You'll do. What's your name?"
"Benita Profane, but I'm called Benni."

For weeks they shared a table, crowded with piles of papers. She edited what he'd written for Boeing while he completely immersed himself in writing a novel. They rarely spoke.

When she had completed the job and was leaving he said, "Someday people will know your name."

Two years later she got a package in the mail. It was Pynchon's novel with a character named Benny Profane.

Hermina Boyle said...

Evan's Milan debut demanded an audacious wrap.
She surveyed the SIX hundred beautiful bolts, fingered coarSE CRETonne and criSPY taffetas.
No. A lithe weave, to compliment the runway backdrop.
CambriC, ROWed loose? Too sheer.
Bombazine? Old and dark suited Evan, but not her line.
A kudhinda from ZimbabWE? A PONgee. Too ethnic.
Ah! Between the shantung and tussar silks. A scarlet lampas.
She draped selvages over the cutting table, covered the now-cold paunch, the lampas' blush a perfect match for Evan's sanguine gorget.
Emotion took her. Machine washable and at one hundred fifty inches she'd only need five yards.

Timothy Lowe said...

2082 and death was a secret, a lie whispered in the dark.

Galbier’s work in sixty six had laid it to rest. And humanity stood in awe, a ponderous debt finally relieved.

Until he turned up dead.

First they thought it was something in the formula, the squirreling away of tiny bits of genetic marmalade, tucked in as escrow against the night.

Then they thought suicide. But that was nonsense. Not when he had eternity.

It wouldn’t take long for detectives to espy the cold truth.

The secret, like Galbier, was dead.

Someone valued death enough to kill for it.

Amy Schaefer said...

Why did I weaponize crows?

On paper, it sounded perfect. An invisible spy network – just six birds flying, watching, recording. Dropping the odd listening device in a well-placed bird bomb.

But crows are too smart to stay obedient. They started making tools. And stealing more than food.

And keeping secrets.

Our first hint of the crows' new agenda came when they murdered my colleagues.

But they remembered I made them.

Now that’s all I do.

I haven’t seen the sun in three years.

Does anyone still run free out there? Or does the flap of black wings rule us all?

Brittany Pickett said...

From his initial breath, he was bred to be a weaponeer. His daily life haunted his dreams. He was on the wrong side, and he hated it. The early morning crow of the rooster signaled his sixteenth birthday. He planned for this day for two years. His county would send him as a soldier to spy on the "enemy nation". It was his deepest secret: he would not go as a spy, he would go as a traitor.

Val said...

Mrs. Dobbins entered the classroom a few minutes before the start of SIXth period. She picked up her wastebasket, and used a postcard advertising the Flinn Scientific Catalog to dust broken pencil pieces off her bookcaSE. “CRETins.” She knocked spitwads loose from the glass of her miCROWave. Her voice raSPY from skirmishes during the previous five classes, Mrs. Dobbins could only rely on a battle of wits to best her charges now. A battle for which they sadly had no WEAPONs.

Steve Cassidy said...

The six crows in the sky meant RUIN WAS RISING and the DEMON IN THE WOODS of DUVA would soon be loosed. Their only protection was a secret weapon known as the “LITTLE KNIFE”, made from SHADOWS AND BONE. The spy BARDUGO stole it from the RAVKA clan during the great SIEGE and STORM of GRISHA.

Now JOOST was their only hope. He alone could wield the “LITTLE KNIFE” and harness the force it held inside. He prayed to the Gods for strength and wisdom as he slipped into the twilight.

Mark Ellis said...

The phone rang before dawn, a jangly weapon assaulting Sam’s drugged sleep.
“You run an ad for the band Six-Six-Six?” said a raspy voice, conspiratorially, like a bad-kept secret.
When he showed up his bass was crowned at the neck with the dead feathers of a raptor.
And I recognized it, the sunburst stock, the outsized tuning pegs, even the coal-black strap.
It was Eddie De Camp’s old bass, lost around the time Marion County’s answer to John Entwhistle dropped acid and got caught by a train in the middle of Oswego Trestle.

Michael Rigg said...

Tom Asbury removed the rectangular pad from his coat pocket.
“How old is this one, Max?”, he asked in a raspy voice.
“Doesn’t Maddie wonder why your secretaries keep getting younger?”
“What? You’re my Father Confessor now?”
“No. I’m your family physician and friend. And I’m concerned you’re using these little blue pills as a psychological weapon against aging.”
“Fine. Just write the script.”
“You know, hurting someone who loves you is nothing to crow about.”
“Just write the goddamn script. Maddie’s clueless.”
“Okay. Here’s your prescription for thirty made-to-order erections. The prognosis? One ruined marriage.”

Lance said...

“Crow? I'm a raven!”

“You're in my chambers. You're a spy!”

“I'll leave after you mix a potion to my prescription.”

“Is this a weapon?”

“No. It's medicinal. Secret.”

“I'm poor at secrets. I write everything down.”

“Not this. Now get to work.”

For long hours I worked over my wee cauldron. It bubbled pink and green: plaid.

“Pour it up! Six drams.”

“You're going to drink it?”

“Of course. What did you think?”

In a gulp. Then, “Poof!”

“Do you know you look like Boris Karloff?”

Kim English said...

They stood, shoulder to shoulder. Six. Battle tested. Ready.

“Watch your corners,” Zero directed. “Don’t let them flank you.”

“Not my first rodeo,” replied Tango. “Just keep an eye on the newbie. Damn millennials. Can’t ever remember our call signs.”

The millennial crowed, “Don’t worry grandma. I got a secret weapon. It’s called youth.”

“Hey motormouth, I spy movement,” whispered Delta.

They tensed. Almost time. Dozens, maybe hundreds, stood between them and their target.

The front door swung open. A man strode out. He raised a hand in greeting. Or surrender.

“Welcome ladies to JC Penny’s Black Friday Doorbuster sale!”

Unknown said...

The reason? What do you mean, the reason? Because I’ll be sixteen tomorrow. That explains everything.


Seriously? Because I’d be legal. Duh.

And the crowbar?

Just there. Not like it was a secret weapon I made in the basement for fuck’s sake.

What was your brother doing?

Smoking stuff. Drinking. Spying on me.

That’s it?

Christ, what else do you want? It was going to happen, I could tell. So I just had a plan, you know? Get him before he gets me.


Yeah, sure. Guess so. Planned self defense. Can I go home now?

Curtis Moser said...

My six-shooter was stuffed in the sock drawer of my studio apartment when The Crow arrived. He showed me a message from Sandra, sandwiched between two sliver-sheets of sandalwood, scribbled in her shaky scrawl:

Kill Sam Spade.

"Who's Sam Spade?"

"Sandra's spouse," the spy said. "He's the sap selling secrets to the States. I think he's living south of Spain. Suit up. I'll take you."

"Sure. Just need some socks and shoes." I slid the drawer open, showed him my weapon. "Sweet of Sandra to sell me out."

"You're Sam Spade?" he asked.

I smiled as I squeezed the trigger.

Just Jan said...

Autumn 2015

Day Seven: Sugar maple next door secreting brilliant orange leaves. Mine remain stubbornly green. Must halt chlorophyll production.

Day Fourteen: Almost at peak color. Show-off sugar maple nothing less than stunning.

Day Sixteen: Awake at dawn to find sugar maple leafless and ugly, a casualty of last night's storm. Crow silently and wave lustrous golden branches.

Day Twenty: Spy man brandishing weapon at base of trunk. Send leaves raining down upon him to no avail. Enormous pain...uncontrollable quivering...falling sensation. Sugar maple rustles bare branches in sinister cackle.

Adib Khorram said...

The lawyer steepled his fingers. “The rest is tied up in escrow.”

Vera sniffed. “And there’s nothing else?”


“We had six million. I don’t understand. Where did Paul spend it all?”

Vera’s husband had traded in commoditized secrets and weaponized love, and where had that gotten him? His shit still stank.

Paul’s lawyer shifted in his seat. “There may have been some…” He lowered his gaze. “Infidelity.”

“Infidelity?” Vera swallowed. Her voice had gone raspy. All this time?

“I’m afraid so.”

Vera drummed her nails on the desk. “So does this mean my boyfriend can move in?”

Cindy C said...

He stockpiled secrets like weapons. With his soothing voice and sympathetic lies, someone always confided something. He’d swear he wouldn’t tell, and so far he never had.

I couldn’t trust him.

Yesterday I followed him onto a crowded subway. He exited on the sixth stop. So did I.

As he opened his front door in the dying light, I whispered his name. He turned, reaching for me as we stepped inside.

We kissed. I punched the knife through his coat and into his back.

The secrets bled out of him as I walked away from the spy who loved me.

Eve Messenger said...

No one’s crowning achievement should be a six-story date with concrete, yet here I stand, alone and teetering.

The roof door slams open.

Someone’s behind me, breathing fast, as if they’ve hurried upstairs.

“You won’t talk me down,” I say.

“Yes.” A woman’s voice, raspy, hesitant.

I shift cautiously around to face her. “I’m six weeks along. My boyfriend won’t leave his wife.”

The Samaritan grabs my wrist. “Your b-boyfriend knows about...?”


“That baby was your secret weapon. You should’ve told him.”

How her wedding ring gleams as she proffers her other hand.

And shoves me over the ledge.

Beth H. said...

I ran through snow,
House in escrow,
Pondering my secret dream.

A stranger did I spy
And, uttering a cry,
Noted his jug of cream.

I suddenly staggered;
He brandished a dagger!
Should I laugh? Or scream?

“Why the weapon?” I sneered.
He smiled, and persevered.
“I know about your secret dream!

“Six days hence, when house you own,
You hope you’ll disinter a bone
Dating from the Pleistocene.”

“Why do you care?”
“Because, mon chere,
I wish to cover it with cream!”

“’Twould be a most unsavory cake!
I cannot stomach this mistake!”
I ran from his mad scheme.

Michael Seese said...

"The Scarecrow"

The Scarecrow had it coming.

Beginning when I was around six, I'd see him there. Outside my window. At night. Spying on me.

He'd whisper, "Sssh. Our secret." Then he'd climb in, cross my room, and go out my door. He probably left the same way. I'd be asleep by then, though.

One night, a bit after he came by, I heard a loud bang. Weapons fire? Probably just a dream, I mumbled. The next morning, my sister was gone. Dad said she'd be going to a "special school" for a while. I never saw the Scarecrow again.

RachelErin said...

It’s illegal to go through the estate before it’s appraised.
A SIX-in-one lock pick shook in my sweaty hand.
Inside. Her ghost at THE desk, wiSPY wires of hair dancing on the CROWn of her head.
The lockpick worked on her private drawer.
One hour. Imaginary SECRETs make invisible WEAPONs.
Two hours. Stacks of false hopes.
Ten minutes before grieving vultures swarm.
A smeared certificate, a faded photo. The ghost’s face is stony.
I leave the furniture and money. Next stop: the past. To track the missing pieces, and paste together a future.

Unknown said...

When Mimi finally got to the top of the tree,
she looked down to count the boys
and saw all three,
within her reach,
crowded together in the clearing
yelling “Mimi, where are you?”
as if she would answer.

But they were young enough,
she thought,
to think she might.

She pulled the weapons out of her sack,
six bulging water balloons,
and dropped them

The boys yelped and looked up,
their wispy hair
now stringy
and plastered to their heads.

“Mimi wins again!” she crowed.
And then,
to herself,
“Not bad for a Grandma.”

Anonymous said...

Mum’s a spy. She told us when the six of us ran away from the Enemy Agent.

She said: “When I say The Word, you hide.”

We move a lot, but she says this is the last time.

Third night, the bottles by the front door smash. Mum screams The Word.

We scatter, but my hiding place is downstairs. I hold my breath for each step.

Step. Breathe. Step. Breathe. Wish I had a weapon.

Bang! Bang! So loud it hurts.

The stained-glass crow is shattered; the Enemy Agent sprawled beneath. Mum has a gun.

“It’s our secret,” she says.

Calorie Bombshell said...

She comes home all gaspy, stamping caked mud off grandma’s garden boots and calling to Jesus. Not that he’s watching her stuff clothes into a bag she swiped from someone’s trash can. Soon it, and the weapon, will be swimming at the bottom of an abandoned well.

Steam from the shower fogs up my glasses while she washes herself, and the shovel, clean. Then we watch cartoons until news of a sixth disappearance flashes across the screen.

I say prayers and fall asleep hoping she, like the crow who circles over old man Weaver’s corn field, will keep my secret.

Unknown said...

My superpowers appeared on my sixth birthday. I'd crow about the injustice of having a Christmas Eve birthday later, but that year I had more pressing concerns, like spying on my adopted parents' room waiting for the light to go out. I planned to confirm the secret floating around school explaining why we never received expensive toy weapons we requested in our letters.

I tiptoed into the living room, unaware of the several truths I would soon learn. Santa smiled warmly like he expected me and said, "Well, your one kid whose parent actually does place presents under the tree."

David Claude McCoy said...

I was six when my grandfather taught me about crows. “They spy on us”, he says and I listen, hanging on his every word. “You can hide things from people,” he smiles, “but the crow’s biggest weapon is that he knows all of our secrets.” I nod but I really don’t understand.

Now, as an old man, myself, I encounter a bedraggled crow staring down at me from a streetlamp, its eyes black and piercing. I think of all my secrets it surely knows but will never tell, and I think of my grandpa. Thank God crows can’t talk.

John Frain said...

His nostrils flare. Xavier seething. “Divorce is fifty-fifty.” Idiot never understood math, especially fractions. “Split everything.”

Si, Xavier,” I say. Good memories usually bring him around. “Remember the night you drank rum and triple sec, retched on the sofa laughing?”

“Split the sofa.” Like Velcro will bring all things back together when he sobers. Not everything splits in half.

“What next, Xavier? We take Little Jorge’s pyjamas, I get bottoms, you get tops?”

“We split –”

STOP!” Even in his rage, he knows better. Precious Jorge, my weapon, never splits.

Jorge stays with me. And now, so will Xavier.

Gigi Kern said...

Six long years he's been on the run. But now he finally knows their secrets. They tried using him as a weapon all those years ago. A lone crow saved him just as the hit squad killed everyone he ever loved setting in motion their destruction and his salvation. It was time.

“Hello?” Detective John Jacobs said in a raspy voice talking into his archaic flip phone.

“Uncle?” a hesitant voice came through the crackle line.

Jacobs falls into his chair, eyes closed. “Shawn? Shawn is that you? Where are you? Talk to me Shawn.” Silence.

“I’ve found them…”

“I’ve found them…”

Unknown said...

It was no contest despite my sixty pounds against his hundred and eighty, being nine years old against his twenty six,
I knew what I’d seen through the spy-hole — him churning away in the dairy with my Mama.

Pa’s not to know, she made me promise. Didn’t mean I couldn’t share it with him, my half-brother. “I saw the two of you and I’ll tell if you don’t …”” I crowed at him from the hay-loft. “

He’s been giving me a tenner a week since.

What can I say? A secret’s a fine weapon. Really

Marc P said...

She listened to whispers
and sold him a lie.
‘I love you,’ she said
And sent them to die.

For six crows to feed on,
And the seventh to report
That the soul of the humans
Could be so cheaply bought.

For the fruit held a spy
In it’s near perfect heart
Wormlike and subtle
And utterly dark.

But if love is a weapon
It is also a cure
And another chose the tree
So that life would endure

Now death has no secret
And the raven no prize
For the man, child and woman
With love in their eyes.

Andrea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KayC said...

Grabbing the six crow’s feet drying on the window ledge, Ana threw them in the small cauldron.

Her secret was out. Spying had gleaned the information the mistress used as a weapon. The word ‘witch’ echoed along the corridors. Ana stirred the bubbling broth, chanting softly. Only two words separated death from eternity.

She had been searching for centuries. She would have waited - he had already drunk eternity.

french sojourn said...

They passed fence posts that cast cold shadows, like headstones from a foreign war where no bodies rested below. As they walked, a murder of six crows, pole sitting, watched from above.

“Come on, let’s keep going.”

They had entered the wasteland with a map that promised a secret well. The road didn’t offer forgiveness, just a second chance.

His Aussie growled beside him. He knelt and scanned ahead with his spyglass.

“Three raiders and a hostage, watch our back, boy.”

He raised his archaic scoped weapon, and took aim. He paused.

“The enemy of our enemy… lets help her”

Shirley Anne said...

That night they crowned him Six Crow.

Spy, Secret Weapon, and Talisman were the alternate choices called out by the crowd before the fight, but he stood six foot tall with dark skin that glistened in the moonlight, and the first name won out.

He raised his arms to give thanks to the heavens. Graceful. Lithe. Beautiful. Duelling had been writ on his purpose since the day his mother birthed him.

They circled each other, bent over, thirsty for the clash, and then he ducked in and heaved his opponent backwards.

Six Crow. A fitting name for a new champion.

Alan Milner said...

The first crow meant nothing to him.

Why would it?

It was just a bird on a wire, nothing more.

The second crow barely penetrated his consciousness.

Two crows meant nothing either.

The third crow raised an itch that didn’t quite break his concentration.

The fourth crow made him think.

Everyone knew he hated the black birds. but not why.

The fifth crow stared back at him.

A spy in the house of love.

Jealousy's secret weapon.

Six crows made it murder.

He hated rapists.

His father had been one.

He still carried that taint with him.

The crows knew.

YA Under My Skin said...

This has to be the most disgusting game I’ve ever played. The cards are sticky, and I spy a rat scuttling between tables. My opponent's filthy: pinching his six cards with grime-crusted fingers. He has a crow on one shoulder that I swear is dead. It twitches occasionally, but if it isn’t making that stench its owner has problems.

He talks and plays slow, but I see smarts in his steady gaze, an invaluable weapon. He slides one card down, wetting his lips. I play next, not interested in the outcome. I want his secrets, not his money.

Unknown said...

He’s on the sweet stuff again. Sander’s place lousy with pots. Dealing too. Lil Roo says he’s cornered the supply—made some deal with the queen bee.

The kid called in bunny boy first. Ridickerous. Got taken out with a crowbar by that gloomy heavy always watching the place.

But I’ve got a guy on the inside. My secret weapon.

A faint knock at the door and my spy scuttles in, face pink. “Thistle b-b-b-break. Six m-m-m-minutes.”

I said nothing. Time to pounce.

Because the Hundred Acre Wood needs a hero.

And I’m the only one.

CynthiaMc said...

Heck of a job for a spy - stuck in a tree house during a thunderstorm with an obnoxious six-year-old.

"I won again!" Tommy crowed.

I hate checkers.


Flames where the laboratory wing used to be.

Natural or man-made?

Accidental or deliberate?

Two dead bodies near the house. Four more inside.

"Are we going to die too?" Tommy whispered.

I looked him in the eye.

"Not a chance. We're playing my game now and I never lose."

They thought they had the secret weapon.

They were wrong.

I had it.


Anonymous said...

They whisper about Old Abernathy’s cornfields. Secrets. Hushed stories crowded at the edges of his property, crouched in corners. Conspiracies. Crop circles in the sixties. Government helicopters spying in the seventies. Eighties. Nineties. The most recent intrigue, a rash of murders. Violent. Disturbing. They assume. The bodies haven’t been found. Most certainly because they’re buried in Old Abernathy’s cornfields. No one wants to look there. Even the cops. Old Abernathy likes the stories. Fear and secrets are better weapons against curious thrill-seekers than any security system. Old Abernathy grabs a shovel. Just because they’re conspiracies, doesn’t mean they aren’t true.

A Room of My Own said...

Someday, I will knock that crown from his pompous head. Will he beg for mercy in that old raspy voice? Will my blade cause crimson secretions from his wrinkled flesh? No. I am not a warrior. My weapon is my mind. And what destroys an unjust man more than a clever woman? I bet you a thousand bags of sixpences. Someday, I will rule and justice will prevail.

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time there was a pink-cheeked, golden-curled, perfect princess named Sophie (who, as it happens, was slightly racist).

“Bring me my crown, please, cretin!” she ordered the Head Dwarf daily. (“Cretin” wasn’t nice, but you notice she did say “please” sweet as a house-raised ewe.)

“Aponeuroses, pig,” she answered the (quite un-piglike) Tutor Elf, who nodded and silently handed her yet another gold star.

(“Perhaps a touch less xenophobic, dearest,” whispered the Queen.)

“Silly Mums--I, xenophwhatchamacallit?” Sophie’s giggles floated like petals.

Imagine (our glee at) Sophie’s pyrrhic wake-up kiss from Prince Charming (the goblin).

The (happily-ever-after) End.

Aline said...

Foraging crows battled over the mangled carcass of a frozen coyote, casualty of an unfortunate incident on SR-68, five miles south of Sweetwater, Tennessee. An Army transport, camouflaged as a hog hauler, slid off the icy pavement propelling six top-secret deactivated military weapons down a bouldered ravine. Lt. Marcus Fulcher, torso wedged between a Patriot missile and the jagged metal remains of the dash, futilely radioed Molly Haas, counterintelligence spy, riding shotgun in the pig truck, now missing.

Sgt. Fulcher, chewed the last of his jerky, swiped at the crows, and waited for the coyote to thaw.